All India Workshop on Sustainable and Inclusive Mountains Development

‘Save the Nilgiris’ fame, Dharmalingam Venugopal, [Honorary Director, Nilgiri Documentation Centre, Kotagiri] is a man devoted to the development of the Nilgiris – the Blue Mountains known to the Badagas as ‘Nakku Beta’

Dvenu

He is ‘on a mission to put the beleaguered Nilgiris on the world map. Dharmalingam Venugopal is an angry man and is an anguished one too. A Badaga, he has grownup with stories woven around his beloved hills’  [ Read the full article published in The Hindu here].

He is organizing an ‘All India Workshop on Sustainable and Inclusive Mountains Development’ at Ooty from 29th to 31st December, 2013.

[Though he has been kind enough to invite me to this workshop, I am unlucky to miss this great opportunity being out of the mountains – Wg Cdr JP]

In the concept note , it is mentioned that

The object of this workshop is to evolve a framework for such a National Mountain Policy, which may pave the way, among other things, for: 

Undertaking a mountain-state-wise inclusive inventory of the natural and cultural diversity and development challenges of Indian mountains;

Creating a mechanism for continuous and coordinated monitoring of mountain areas;

Providing for appropriate policies and programmes to prevent, mitigate and adapt to climate and land-use  change;

Formulating mountain-specific sustainable development policies based on appropriate emulation of global and domestic ‘good practices’ while at the same time  avoiding corresponding ‘bad practices’;

Ensuring adequate plan and budgetary provision for economic and social infrastructure in mountain areas;

Ensuring adequate funding/compensation for conservation activities in mountain areas based, where appropriate, on payment for ecosystem services or other such fiscal instruments;  and

Launching a massive and effective awareness campaign for conservation and sustainable development in mountains.

The broad-based workshop will bring together a compact group of senior officials, professionals, social and natural scientists, environmentalists, writers, journalists, economists and corporate leaders’ like Dr.T.S.Tolia, [Former Chief Secretary, Uttarakhand] , Dr. N.Sundaradevan,[Former Addl. Chief  Secretary, Tamil Nadu], Shri. Sudhirener Sharma [Climate  Himalaya]’ Mrs. Rohini Nilekani,[Chairperson, Arghyam], Dr. SM. Ramasamy [Former Vice Chancellor, Gandhigram Rural Institute],  Dr. O.P.S. Khola [Principal Scientist, Central Soil and Water Conservation and Training Institute, Ooty], Dr. Biswajit Banerjee [Director (Forestry) Planning Commission],  Dr, P.A.  Azeez [Director, Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History], Shri. Ramachandra Guha [Environmental  Historian], Dr. Sarala Khalling [Regional Director, Atree, Gangtok]’

For complete details of the Concept Note of this workshop

All India Workshop on Sustainable and Inclusive Mountains Development in India At The Nilgiris  on Dec 29-31, 2013

Our dilemma is that we hate change and love it at the same time; what we really want is for things to remain the same but get better. -Sydney J. Harris

The human dilemma is not whether to do right or wrong, but rather to do right when it matters the most, and wrong when it matters the least. -Unknown

This year’s landslide tragedy in Uttarakhand underscores the fact that the current pattern of development in mountain areas in the country is neither suitable nor sustainable.  The increasing cost of recovery from such mountain disasters also diverts scarce resources for mountain development. Indian mountains are globally significant for their biological and cultural diversity and developmental potential. It requires only sensitive and imaginative planning and polices to make their development socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable. India should follow global consensus on mountains to protect and  develop its fragile mountains, which cover about one sixth of its area.

Global Consensus

Global consensus on sustainable mountain development has evolved over twenty years of international deliberations to form part of the Outcome Document, ‘The Future We Want’ of Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (2012).

Major challenges common to mountains have been identified as:

Land degradation due to inappropriate farming practices and extractive industries (mining and forestry); Population growth and food security; Susceptibility to environmental hazards, causing disasters, such as floods, landslides, or avalanches leading to loss of life, property, and livelihoods and interrupting transport networks and Increasing susceptibility  to climate change,

Guiding principles for Mountain policy

The broad principles that should underlie a sustainable mountain policy have been arrived at the Rio+20 conferences as follows. Mountains specific strategies to address related development challenges and opportunities. Improving governance and institution building by involving local populations in all stages of decision-making and implementation; Compensation for ecosystem goods and services provided by beneficiaries to mountain populations to support their sustainable development; Balancing conservation and development based on sound local and regional knowledge and targeted investment; Transboundary cooperation and upstream–downstream linkages where mountain ecosystems transcend national and state borders; Coherence with principles of international cooperation

Mountain Development – India

In the two decades since the First Earth Summit in 1992, the emphasis of mountain development in India has also gradually shifted from development to sustainable development, with particular attention to environmental concerns.

The 12th (2012-2017) plan is by far the most categorical on its emphasis on mountain environmental issues. The Draft Plan states that ‘the Hill Area Development Programme (HADP) and the Western Ghats Development Programme (WGDP) need to be continued in the Twelfth Plan with renewed vigour so that natural resources of these fragile areas can be preserved and used in a more sustainable manner. The ecological and biodiversity issues should be dealt with on high priority. The programme should therefore have a twofold objective of preserving ecological balance and creating sustainable livelihood opportunities for the local communities. Further, most of these areas lack political power and consequently adequate funding’.

Environmental Responsibility

Ever since environmental concerns became part of the global agenda, India has been one of the countries that have readily incorporated such concerns in its developmental policies. The National Forest Policy, National Environment Policy, National Water Policy, National Conservation Strategy and Policy Statement on Environment and Development,  the Biological Diversity Act and declaring a large part of the Western Ghats as Environmentally Sensitive Area are some of the landmark policies which have a bearing on the mountain environment/ economy.

However, it may become a case of missing the wood for the trees if we continue to focus variedly on parts of a mountain range or even mountain ranges separately and not on the nation’s mountains as a whole. Therefore, it may be only a logical next step to formulate a National Mountain Policy to safeguard the mountains as a whole because of their critical significance to country’s sustainable development.

Workshop objective

The object of this workshop is to evolve a framework for such a National Mountain Policy, which may pave the way, among other things, for:

Undertaking a mountain-state-wise inclusive inventory of the natural and cultural diversity and development challenges of Indian mountains; Creating a mechanism for continuous and coordinated monitoring of mountain areas; Providing for appropriate policies and programmes to prevent, mitigate and adapt to climate and land-use  change; Formulating mountain-specific sustainable development policies based on appropriate emulation of global and domestic ‘good practices’ while at the same time  avoiding corresponding ‘bad practices’; Ensuring adequate plan and budgetary provision for economic and social infrastructure in mountain areas; Ensuring adequate funding/compensation for conservation activities in mountain areas based, where appropriate, on payment for ecosystem services or other such fiscal instruments;  and Launching a massive and effective awareness campaign for conservation and sustainable development in mountains.

Participants

The broad-based workshop will bring together a compact group of senior officials, professionals, social and natural scientists, environmentalists, writers, journalists, economists and corporate leaders.

Place: Gem Park Ooty, Sheddon Road, Ootacamund, 643001. Ph. 2442955

Dates: December 29-31, 2013

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